Dehumanizing Slaves

Topics: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Human rights Pages: 5 (1999 words) Published: February 24, 2013
The Dehumanization of the Enslave: Frederick Douglass The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself Every human being should be given the right to an education, love and the pursuit of happiness. A slave is a human. Therefore, the pilfering of a human’s right through the force of human cruelty is an act of dehumanization for the purpose of ownership and free labor. The act of dehumanizing a slave is a slave master’s desire. A slave master needs control over the mind of the enslaved in order to gain free employment. Slavery is a dehumanizing institution. Slaves are captured, beaten, tortured and traumatize for the purpose of free labor. The intention of dehumanizing a slave is to control, manipulate, and force the intelligence of a person into bondage. Frederick Douglass’s, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Written by Himself and Solomon Northup’s The Twelve Years of Slave give insight on the purpose and the process of the dehumanizing of slaves. To dehumanize a person is to eliminate the human qualities through manipulation, torture and human cruelty. Douglass and Northup utilize their personal experiences as enslaves to depict the representation of slavery and how the masters overthrow the enslaved by torture, beatings and even killings. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the dehumanization institution of slavery uses violence, power, and identity theft to strip the identity of slaves, compel them to animal like characteristics, and repudiate them of any education. A person’s name is not their only identity. However, the name change did have relevance in the process of identity theft. People personal characteristics, personalities, and qualities assist in the shaping of one’s identity. Kimberly Drakes author of the essay, “Rewriting the American self: race, gender, and identity in the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs”, focuses on how an enslaved author such as Douglass creates his new identity through literature. Frederick Douglass, whose stolen identity, early in his life, is not aware of his date of birth or age and is fearful to question his master (395). According to Jeannine DeLombard article, “Eye-Witness To The Cruelty: Southern Violence And Northern Testimony In Frederick Douglass, the fearful enslave task is “not to speak but to stand, listen and tremble”(14), or have any concern about his identity. The purpose of identity theft is to break the family lineage and create a paternal power of the master to the enslaved. The master gives his slaves his family name. In doing this, the master is positioning himself as a “father” figure to his slaves and furthermore claiming a distinct position of ownership over his “property”. Drake describes it best, “the child enters into society not as a person but as an object”(6), a slave and for recognition purposes the master calls him “boy” even as an adult. The slave is not even worthy of being called by his name, having no recognition or identity. Douglass is taking from his mother, while too young to remember anything about her and too young to understand affection (395). The paternal separation is part of the slavery process in order to eliminate human qualities such as love, affection and protection. An infant learns these human qualities from his mother. This type of separation is practice in today’s society when a mother gives up her parental rights to an infant for adoption. Therefore, the mother and child’s bond is broken immediately after birth. Northup recalls the separation of a female slave “Eliza”, from her young children; her spirit is broken and she becomes disappointed and full of despair (60). Freeman the slaveholder holds no regards at the buying and selling of Eliza and by force separates her from her only remaining child. “Freeman, out of patience, tore Emily from her mother by main force, the two clinging to each other with all their might”, “Don’t leave me,...
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